The no parking signs for have been hung on the parking meters around the parking lot bounded by Folsom, Main, and Beale Streets, and on Friday, June 14, Tishman is slated to start preparing the site for the two big towers, 8-story midrises, and podium building to rise at 201 Folsom.
201 Folsom Street Site
Monthly parkers in the 390 Main Street lot which will be closed at the end of the day tomorrow (Thursday, June 13, 2013) will be getting pro-rated refunds which shouldn’t come as any surprise.

40 thoughts on “T-Minus Two Days Until Towering Folsom Street Development Begins”
  1. Another piece of the Folsom transformation falling into place. Although, I believe the northern side of the street is where the big pedestrian changes will take place. Can’t wait for some of those projects to come online as well. This stretch will be unrecognizable from its current form in several years.

  2. Just been told that a representative from the builder will be coming to the upcoming Tuesday board meeting so we should have more information. Infinity residents are invited to attend.

  3. Just been told that a representative from the builder will be coming to the upcoming Tuesday board meeting so we should have more information. Infinity residents are invited to attend.

  4. The much needed density in this part of the city will hopefully encourage more retail which will make it feel more like a real neighborhood. Will this increase unit prices? Or, will that be negated by the added supply of new units. Which has a bigger impact?

  5. To encourage more retail, you’ll actually need residents. People who will live here full-time rather than visiting a few times a year. What % of the Infinity is actually full-time occupied, maybe 50%?
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure this project will be a huge success and will sell out quickly at over $1,000 psf. But will anyone actually live here?

  6. Retail to support a new neighborhood is tricky. Interesting street scapes that encourage walking are typically small, with narrow store fronts that maintain your interest. Small spaces are cheaper and can have a more eclectic mix of activities.
    These large condo buildings, while increasing housing quantity, will only support canned retail and restaurant chains primarily – I didn’t say exclusively, but primarily. With the broad busy streets south of market, walking won’t be pleasurable. Add to this the low actual occupancy and these towers will be filled with people that drive to more interesting parts of the city. Zoning, ADA, and other requirements will prevent an interesting retail scene from developing.

  7. I agree – I don’t think SOMA will ever feel neighborhoody. It’s not the way it’s zone and it’s not the way it’s being built.
    It will be filled with dry buildings and dry people, who would be too scared to visit real vibrant neighborhoods like the Mission and the Tendernob.

  8. Having lived in SOMA, I think its funny you would say we would be ‘scarred’ to visit the Mission or Tendernob. Clearly you know nothing of SOMA east of 5th street

  9. Theres great areas directly east of 5th street even, Tempest is better than any bar Im aware of in the Tendernob. Mission, probably not, but its still up there.
    Then east a bit more you have many interesting bars including city beer store and etc

  10. Sam,
    1. My statement doesn’t apply to everyone who lives there so I don’t want to get into an argument of absolutes.
    2. That being said, people who live in these towers are never going to step foot in the areas you’re talking about and that’s exactly my point. They only part of SOMA they ever experience on foot is the walk from their valet to their doorman.

  11. So, you’re not a genuine San Franciscan unless you live in a dumpy part of town? Sorry you can’t afford a nicer place.

  12. Let’s break it down – the Infinity area gets some of the most sun in the city, is a block from the waterfront, is walking distance from AT&T park, the ferry building, transbay terminal, the future Warriors stadium, restaurants along the Embarcadero (Ozumo, Boulevard, Chaya, etc.)…
    But this will never be a good “neighborhood?” Totally disagree – it’s a pretty awesome place to live!

  13. South of Market extends from 12th Street to the Embarcadero. I think OMN shares a common misunderstanding among tech people: that “South of Market” means the redevelopment zone east of Fifth.

  14. Gotta love the broad strokes being used here to describe a neighborhood and the people who live there (this isn’t the sfgate comments section, right?). I’ve lived in six different neighborhoods since moving here (including the tender nob although my friends insisted it was full loin when I told them the corner) and have been in soma – at the Infinity no less – for five. I still make it back to favorite spots in the more ‘vibrant,’ Haight and Mission.
    And then there’s this guy’s take on OMN’s ‘vibrant,’ mission:

  15. I’m sure that if you ask the valleywag guy (great article btw), he won’t say that the real San Francisco that he used to know and love now lives in the Infinity.
    And to the person who said made a comment about my income and rent…check craigslist. Renting in the Mission costs about the same per bedroom now as renting in a SOMA highrise.

  16. Hmm, I suppose when the Valleywag writer moved to the mission, someone published pretty much the exact same article about him.
    Cities are living cultures that evolve and change. The change is perceived differently depending on the person. Spending time lamenting new people moved into the neighborhood is pointless. Move.

  17. “Spending time lamenting new people moved into the neighborhood is pointless. Move.”
    And guess what, many people have moved. I now tell my friends that San Francisco has become everything it hated about Los Angeles while L.A. has evolved into what it used to hate about S.F.
    Don’t believe me? Go sit at a café on Abbot Kinney (Venice neighborhood) and listen to the conversations about art, music, culture, history, politics, but NOBODY down there talks about money, how “much they have”, what their condo is worth, etc. On my recent visit I began to feel I was transported back to San Francisco 1991, but with better weather. What shocked me was how many former SF people I knew from architecture school at CAL now live in L.A. when reading my class newsletter recently.

  18. “I’m sure that if you ask the valleywag guy (great article btw), he won’t say that the real San Francisco that he used to know and love now lives in the Infinity.”
    Again, a pretty myopic view focused on one area/demographic. I think the broader take is that d-baggery (or, to use your language, dryness) isn’t associated with just one part of the city, it’s everywhere. If you were here for the first dot com boom and bust, that neighborhood was the Marina (with guys in their dot com blue shirts). The author of the gawker article is basically making the same complaint, just changing the setting: the Mission is the new Marina (swap out the blue shirt for a hoodie). Living in soma, we definitely have more than our fair share of this due to the higher ratio of commercial space taken up by startups.
    Conversely, while soma is still in a very nascent phase of its development as a true neighborhood, it’s actually grown up quite well over the past 5 years imho. Is it or will it ever be like the Haight, Mission, or North Beach, or any other older neighborhood in SF due to their history? Definitely, not, but I’d argue that just as each of those neighborhoods are unique in their own right, soma will come into it’s own over time. I don’t quite know what qualifies as ‘vibrant,’ in your book but it is a matter of personal taste and you’re entitled to yours. Just recognize the disconnects when arguing in generalizations.

  19. While many of these new high rises may be pied-a-terres (a statistic which I would still LOVE to see concrete data on, I could see it going either way), even if half of them are not, that is going to eventually be thousands of units. On top of that, it is not like these are the only living options…plenty of homes in the general vicinity (around South Park, near AT&T, complexes along Embarcadero, etc). So I think there is definitely a demand for a commercial corridor.
    I think it will probably be the same price-point as Fillmore in Pac Heights, but with a sleeker ambiance. High-end but contemporary minimalist, much like the condo buildings rising. SF does not really have a district like this yet…Hayes is upscale but hipster, Fillmore is upscale but more yuppie/conservative. I could see South Beach eventually being a more glamorous place to live, in a very “on trend” fashion forward way. I think the dining and shops along Folsom will reflect that, eventually.

  20. “Go sit at a café on Abbot Kinney (Venice neighborhood) and listen to the conversations about art, music, culture, history, politics, but NOBODY down there talks about money, how “much they have”, what their condo is worth, etc.”
    Having just spent a few hours at a cafe on Abbot Kinney, I would say the street has become every bit as upscale as Valencia Street, and has changed even more dramatically since 1991 than Valencia St. — I remember when Abbot Kinney was named West Washington Blvd. Now Google LA is located just a few blocks away. Perhaps a better LA comparison to the Mission in the 1990’s is Highland Park?

  21. One of my favorite aspects of living in Soma is the ability to quickly BART to the Mission, eat and drink, and BART home. I can also walk to North Beach pretty quickly or take Muni to the Tendernob. In other words, I can (and do) easily access all of these parts of the city but still live in a modern condo close to work.
    But the point remains that you kinda need to leave Soma to get a neighborhood feel, which I acknowledge. For the people above touting the benefits of Infinity’s location, you’re basically citing tourist spots largely frequented by the B&T crowd: AT&T Park, the Embarcadero, and a bunch of corporate card restaurants full of suits on business dinners/happy hours. There are very few neighborhood joints for locals.
    As a Soma resident, I hope this changes. But building 1,000 new units, of which 800 sit empty, isn’t going to help much. But I guess some new residents is better than none.

  22. +1 on easy access to other parts of the city from soma via BART/muni (the F Market is actually a great line as well – even better if they do extend to Fort Mason) or bike.
    I also agree that soma lacks the neighborhood feel versus some of the ones I’ve lived in the past (Marina, North Beach, Portrero, Haight): while it’s great to have spots like Slanted Door, Boulevard, and Prospect in the neighborhood, sometimes one just wants a reasonable priced salad/meal (missing Pluto’s or a Blue Barn). That being said, there are a few spots that I would definitely call local including Local (no pun intended), District, and places in deeper soma like terroir and bar agricole.
    As far as the B&T crowd goes, you can make the same observations about local bars in the Marina (try Circa on a weekend night).

  23. @sfjhawk – The one thing about the heavy B&T presence in the Marina is that there are B&T spots (Circa, Eastside West, Bar None) and then there are “local” spots (Tipsy Pig, Stock and Trade, KTs, Lightning) and then there are the “we wish we weren’t local” spots (Mauna Loa, Horsehoe, Bus Stop). Three different crowds (two of which are local crowds), three different bar crawls.
    I have no doubt as this neighborhood continues to grow, that it will start attracting more local spots (like Pluto’s/Blue Barn). Right now I can think of several spots around 5th/6th/7th, and eventually the demand will move closer to the Embarcadero as development continues.

  24. Legacy Dude,
    While there are many parts of SOMA that have zero neighborhood feel, I wouldn’t count the Embarcadero part of South Beach as one of them. Even some of the “corporate card restaurants” in the area have their share of regulars who live or work nearby and who know each other and the staff. In addition to hanging out together, they probably get more fun out of destination-restaurant people-watching than the gang from Cheers. But if you only go to those restaurants occasionally, you may not pick up on who the locals are.
    South Beach certainly has an influx of non-locals, whether for the Ferry Building farmers’ market, Giants games, restaurants, or just work, but that’s hardly a problem. For the most part, it makes the area more vibrant.
    I would say that the area with the most problems with the B&T crowd is North Beach (which most people consider a “neighborhood”). Party buses from the suburbs dump off people around the Broadway strip clubs who have brought their own booze onto the buses and thereby provide little business for local establishments while generating high law-enforcement costs. And the fact that the party buses are regulated by the state limits the City’s ability to clamp down on them.
    South Beach, by contrast, sees very little of that kind of crap — the baseball crowds are usually reasonably well behaved considering the number of people attending each game — although I personally would feel much more comfortable at a location like the Infinity than dealing with the zoo of living next door to the ballpark. It’s simply a nice part of town, which is why it’s an area enjoyed by locals and non-locals alike. I would suggest to anyone who wants to get a feel for South Beach to hang out outside Java House (not Red’s, the one at the South Beach Marina) on a sunny weekend and see people walk by, people with strollers, people walking their dogs, people jogging, most of them are likely to be locals. South Beach has a lot of neighborhood feel if you know where to look for it.

  25. Some day the people in the hills to the west will get mad when all they see is a wall. The third tower of the Bridge is going, going, from Dolores Park. Whatever happened to a public view not being obliterated? It was supposedly DCP policy.
    If these places are all second or third homes for a lot of purchasers, too bad there isn’t some sort of clause that if you don’t occupy an apartment for so many months of the year, you must pay a penatly tax that could be used to subsidize housing for those that want to live here all the time but struggle because of the high rents caused by the bidding up due to these buildings that do nothing to release the pressure. It could be a tax as a grant to permanent residents. Then every one could go to all the restaurants and hang out and be very arty (or just talk about money).
    South Beach is nice, but once the view is blocked from the Embarcadero by you know what, it will be a lot less so, I fear.

  26. noe mom, I could care less about views so long as I don’t have to look at a brick wall 2 feet away through my window. How much time does the average person spend staring out their window anyway?
    That said, your idea about a “hotel tax” for specuvestors is a pretty good one, IMO. I think I recall once reading somewhere that Paris had so many pied a terres a few years ago that they increased taxes on 2nd and 3rd homes for just this reason. Fronzlol can probably confirm if he reads this.

  27. Absentee owners already pay a hugely disproportionate amount of taxes for the services they use.. And you want to tax them more?

  28. Why not? If people can afford to keep million dollar condos empty they obviously have plenty of money. Meanwhile you have folks who actually live and work in this city sharing garage spaces as living quarters. Does this seem like good public policy to you? Filling Soma with empty ghost towers?
    The absentee owners can sell and then deal with the horrible inconvenience of staying at the St. Regis or Four Seasons when they visit twice a year. That’s why we have hotels.

  29. Legacy Dude,
    Yes, I confirm Paris has a tax on vacant dwellings. Cities in France have 2 housing taxes: one on the property, one on the occupant. A landlord usually will pay one, but not the other. If he leaves his property empty, he has to pay a tax that amounts to the occupant tax as well. This was created to 1) make sure the housing stock is put to use and 2) ensure Paris doesn’t become a “museum city” where few would live and where the few living there would bear a disproportionate share of the city’s services.
    But I’d like to see statistics on empty dwellings in these SOMA condo towers.

  30. That said, your idea about a “hotel tax” for specuvestors is a pretty good one
    Almost as good an idea as rent control, and look where that’s gotten us. It’s a bad idea to try to micromanage this.
    If they keep the place empty and don’t live there, they are already paying property taxes for services they don’t use.
    A much better idea, IMHO, would be to have a child tax for people who have children. They clearly have the money to afford kids, and we know they don’t pay enough in taxes.

  31. Hey, if we have to live with distortions such as rent control and prop 13/60, why not add another distortion to even the playing field? Shelter is a human necessity, so the rich shouldn’t be allowed to hoard it. Or let’s get rid of all the distortions and reestablish a true free market. But of course, going down this path exposes most of us for the self-serving hypocrites we truly are: supportive of any policy that improves our personal financial position, regardless of whether it’s logical or sound public policy, with no thought given to the long-term consequences or counterpoints. In the end, nobody pays enough taxes besides me, and the government just wastes the money anyway. Right? Then we complain about Muni, the roads, and the schools.
    But back to my original point, this city has a shortage of housing. We’re building more of it, which is great, but more housing doesn’t help if it sits empty. I bet a non-occupancy tax would serve to discourage malinvestment and lower the cost of living. Not to mention the positive externalities of more local residents driving neighborhood/community development.
    Again, nobody “needs” a second or third home. This city has plenty of nice hotels for your weekend visits up from the peninsula.

  32. LD, I am not following you 100%. Empty second homes in SF can disrupt the market by reducing supply, but actual resident SFers are overall winners. These homeowners pay their property taxes and yet do not use services. They also do not clog the streets, pay for but do not send their kids to our schools, pay for trash, sewers, etc…

  33. lol, the genesis of this tangent here and on the other 201 Folsom thread was people commenting about how this building would bring so many new residents to the area, who would then frequent local establishments and engender the “neighborhood feel.” My point was that this development, if it’s like Infinity and Millennium, will be largely empty most of the time and sold to outsiders. So that cafe that’s been “coming soon” will keep coming soon for years to come. In other words, don’t expect a neighborhood feel with no real neighbors.
    As a Soma resident, I don’t think that’s an optimal approach to developing one of the last central land parcels left in a city with a housing shortage. But apparently I’m the only one who cares, so bring on the collectible condos! At least the 12 people who do actually end up living here full-time will never have to wait for a treadmill. And it’ll be a great accessory to the new stadium that also sits empty 300 days/year.

  34. “if it’s like Infinity and Millennium, will be largely empty most of the time”
    I think that’s not true. Do you have any support for this other than it’s your belief?

  35. if it’s like Infinity and Millennium, will be largely empty most of the time and sold to outsiders
    Ask anyone who lives there (I did) and that’s simply not true, at least for the Infinity.

  36. No, no hard stats, obviously. I rented at Infinity for about a year before we bought. Of the 8 units on our floor, at least half were second homes and empty most of the time. Our place in tower 2 faced tower 1, which was pretty dark every night aside from 4-5 units. Local area is a ghost town after 7pm once the Gap crowd finishes happy hour. On weekends it swarms with B&Ts going to the Embarcadero, Wharf, or Giants games.
    Regarding Millennium, there’s been a lot of press on that building relaying that it was sold largely to foreign investors.
    Look guys, I hope I’m wrong and Folsom turns into some kind of locals promenade street like Union, Chestnut, Mission, Valencia, Irving, Geary, Clement, or Fillmore. Let’s see what happens when the sales center here opens.

  37. LD,
    If you are willing to walk for a few minutes from the Infinity, your options to hang out in the evening will extend way past 7pm. Palomino, High Dive, Epic, Waterbar, Ozumo, Chaya, Region, Boulevard etc, not to mention Prospect in case you are too lazy to cross a street. If those places don’t appeal to you is one thing, but to suggest that having to walk two blocks to the bar and restaurant scene would disqualify an area from being a “neighborhood” would probably leave much of San Francisco devoid of “neighborhoods.”
    As for Folsom becoming a new Union, Chestnut, Valencia, etc, who cares? Personally, I’d much rather live a block from the Embarcadero in its current state than living on any single one of the streets that you mention.

  38. anonanon, I no longer live at Infinity so moot topic. But aside from High Dive, most of the places you mention are overpriced scene restaurants that are full of suits at happy hour/business dinners, or tourists. You’re kind of making my point: very few locals. You also overlooked One Market, Town Hall, Market Bar, and Americano, but same thing in different form.
    I consider a neighborhood restaurant as one where two people can get a decent meal for under $100, and most of the patrons are people who live in the area instead of local office heroes having a $15 fufu martini before BARTing home to Lamorinda. Like the Mission, Castro, Richmond, and Pac Heights areas I mentioned.
    But we’re beating a dead horse here so let’s agree to disagree. To each their own. I will be curious to see what % of this building will actually be occupied, although those stats will obviously be tough to get.

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